Monday, September 30, 2019

Forced Growth

I'm a planner. I don't mind if the plan needs to change but I abhor not having a plan.

I plan for growth. Growth in all areas of my life. Spiritual. Physical. Mental. Relational. Professional.

Some have more detail than others but all areas have a plan. But the plan doesn't make growth happen. Executing the plan makes something happen but it doesn't always make growth happen. There are too many unknowns. Too many things beyond my control.

That's why faith is always a part of my plan. I try as best I can to plan according to God's will for my life. And when I think I've done that and the plan doesn't seem to be going the right way, I look at what I've learned, what God is showing me,  and I re-do my plan.

In the past I've stuck to my plan too long and didn't evaluate if it was time to change. I can't force growth. But I can plan for it.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Vision is expensive

Vision is expensive. Vision is the ability to interpret our surroundings by the light that is reflected on them. No light; no vision. Most of our vision is peripheral and low resolution. We think we see a lot. But there's so much more than what's right in front of us.

In order to move forward we must we must be aware of what we can't see. We must think of possibilities and dangers that lurk just beyond our grasp and reach.

Where there is no vision the people perish. Proverbs 29:18

Life is more about playing chess than checkers. Checkers forces you to think only a few moves ahead. Chess requires much more strategy. Life requires  foresight, strategy, and a plurality of players.

Vision is expensive but you've been gifted it for free. How will you use it?

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Growth in Times of Conflict

"We've got to stop fighting or the church won't grow." I hear this a lot. But its only partially true. We've got to stop fighting for certain but that has nothing to do with growth. Nothing. We've got to stop fighting and instead find healthy ways to discuss and work through our differences. Jesus gave us a Biblical model to do that. Have we sat down with those we disagree with? Or are we just spouting opinions about others? If we have indeed listened to different opinions, then have we had discussions with third parties present? Or do we escalate the discussion to those in authority first?

Perhaps we've done all of these things and still disagree and it's time to part ways. But that doesn't mean we can't grow.

This past year our church went through a very tense time. There was conflict. There were discussions. It wasn't always pretty. But we grew. We grew! We continued to have visitors. We continued to have new members join. We confirmed students. We Baptized. We grew spiritually. We grew numerically.

Growth comes when we put God first. Putting God first doesn't mean we a free from conflict, it means that we use a model for healthy conflict. To be fair, putting God first doesn't always mean numerical growth. Or spiritual growth for that matter as it doesn't feel like growth when we are wrestling with God.

But conflict doesn't mean we can't grow. God is bigger than our conflict.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Business Model for the Church

I hate when people use business analogies in describing church. Using business principles in running a church? Yes! But analogies for describing a church? No! Its hard enough to get the words right for God. Human analogies rarely work for the Divine and the same goes for the work of Jesus through the church.

So I'm going to use a business analogy for the church.

Most manufacturers today aren't the ones selling their product. They rely on another company to market and sell what they produce. In many cases the retailer or marketer takes 90% of the profit. The numbers (at first) don't seem to match up. Why wouldn't the person/company who made the product get the majority or at least half of the profits? Because selling something is hard work. You can have the best product out there but if no one wants to buy it, it's not a profitable product.

I believe that the "product" of the church is the best one out there (see how the analogies can get icky?). But fewer and fewer people are buying in. Part of the problem is that we've been marketing our programs as a product instead of the life transforming relationship with Jesus and a community that support that relationship. That's harder to sell in traditional means.

"Selling" Christianity is not our work alone. If we don't rely on the Holy Spirit to do the Holy Spirit's work, we will fail every time. God is working in everyone's life. We don't have to sell people on God. We only have to point to where He is.

To do that we have to know God. Trust God. And love God. It's not a great business model. But it is a great way to live.

Until Everyone Hears,

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Science Project

There was a milestone event in my house this week: my daughter's first science project. I hate science projects. I think they rarely encourage anything scientific and while they can help a student learn about designing visual aids and their presentation skills, those skills aren't taught prior to the assignment.

But what I really hate about those projects is parental involvement. I don't do science projects. I will help with supply purchase. I will help with home technology issues such as printing pictures. But I don't design. I don't micro-manage. I offer advice once and then I shut up.

The process of watching my children do a project and then compare their work to another student's parent's science project is fascinating. They see that their is a disparity between the two projects and they then set their own bar higher next time. The next time they listen to my one piece of advice and hit the bar. Sometimes they exceed it.

This is a much better skill than designing visual aids. This is the skill of intrinsic motivation.

God teaches me this all the time. He tells me to love my neighbor but lets me figure out the best ways to do that. He never lays out all the steps for me. Sometimes I hit the mark. Sometimes I don't. But always I learn.

Perhaps I don't hate science projects as much as I think I do.

Until Everyone Hears,

Friday, September 6, 2019

You stole my hashtag!

I got a text this week from a friend. He was concerned because someone "stole" my hashtag/catch phrase, "Holy Mischief," for his blog post. My friend wondered if I had missed the boat on filing a trademark.

I read the article (you can read it here) and instead of being disappointed I was filled with joy in his use of the term. The author, Dave Barnhart, used the term regarding examples of social justice. Taking a stand for what you believe in certainly qualifies as an act of Holy Mischief.

But so does anything that gets you out of your comfort zone because of your beliefs. I once told an employee that his act of Holy Mischief was to make sure he smiled at 3 people that day. He didn't smile much. After his day of Holy Mischief he started smiling more. He seemed more joyful. He now smiles when he sees me. He no longer keeps his joy in the love of God to himself.

Holy Mischief comes in many forms. It can be as simple as smiling or as big as getting arrested for your cause. What seems little to me, might be huge for someone else. Perspective matters. So does stretching your perspective.

I've now made it my mission to challenge others to Holy Mischief. I'm purposefully meeting with others and handing them a challenge (and asking them to give me one). The challenges consist of acts of kindness, meeting with local government officials, speaking up in a meeting, reading a book of the Bible you haven't read yet and writing about it, etc...

My prayer is that all of these moments of Holy Mischief become a movement. One that continues to transform the world. If you'd like a challenge let me know. I'm always happy to be a co-conspirator to Holy Mischief.

Until Everyone Hears,

The Trickster

There is a character in most folklore known as the trickster. The Trickster at first seems to be a bad character. Who really wants to be tri...